You just read my post on tax filing requirements (thanks!) and discovered you don't have to file a Form 1040 this year. So, as fictional television attorney (though not a tax specialist) Jimmy McGill might say, "'S'all good, man." Right? Not necessarily. Sometimes even if you don't have to file a federal tax return, it's to your benefit to do so. Here are 10 situations when you should send the Internal Revenue Service a return: You're due a refund. This often is the case if you had federal income tax withheld. The only way to get any of that prepaid... Read more →


Broad City image via Giphy.com Do you have to file a return? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the answer usually is yes. Believe it or not, some people make it through tax-filing season without any hassle. That's because the Internal Revenue Service doesn't require them to file taxes. Unfortunately, most of us aren't that lucky. So just who has to file a tax return? Generally, if you are a U.S. citizen or resident you must consider three things when determining whether you have to file a tax return: your age, your filing status and your income.... Read more →


IRS building by David Boeke via Flickr CC A lot of former Internal Revenue Service employees take the lessons they learned on that job and create second careers as tax advisers and preparers. That's a nice professional segue. Going from being part of the U.S. tax collection machine to helping folks pay Uncle Sam as little as legally possible. But it needs to be done after IRS employees leave their government job. One current IRS staffer in the agency's Andover, Massachusetts, service center was, to borrow a tax term, double dipping. Worse, federal prosecutors say she filed almost 600 false... Read more →


Taxpayers got their first experience with new filing forms with last year's 2018 returns. There are more changes to the 1040 for 2019 taxes, too, but the revisions actually could be helpful. Tax season is about to start in a less than two weeks. Jan. 27, in case you forgot. Many of us are already working on our 2019 returns, either by working with a tax preparer or filling out our forms on our own. Doing taxes has never been a fun job for most folks. But filing under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has made that job... Read more →


Ready to file your taxes? Ready to do so for free? The Internal Revenue Service is ready, too. Its Free File tax preparation and electronic filing option is open for business. As usual, the online no-cost way for millions to complete and electronically file their taxes is available before the IRS actually starts accepting and processing returns. That won't happen until Jan 27. But you can still get a jump on your annual tax filing obligation. The Free File program you select will simply hold your return until Jan. 27 and then submit as soon as the IRS officially kicks... Read more →


Image via GotCredit.com The year's first obvious and, for some, painful acknowledgement of taxes is next week. Jan. 15 is the due date for the final estimated tax payment for the 2019 tax year. That upcoming deadline day is this weekend's By the Numbers figure. Generally, if you expect you'll owe more than $1,000 in taxes, then you must pay estimated taxes throughout the year. If you've been paying estimated taxes for a while, you already know that these payments cover earnings that aren't subject to withholding. This includes things like investment earnings that pay out periodically during the year... Read more →


Topher Grace is known by millions of fans as television's Eric Forman. But when he's not acting, he also has a side gig. Side hustles aren't just for struggling wage slaves. From the "what I learned today" files, I literally learned today that actor Topher Grace has a side gig doing projects for Disney. Yes, the man who was Eric Forman in That '70s Show, and a buddy put together, as a lark, a consolidated trailer of all the Star Wars movies. Their unsanctioned YouTube post got a gazillion hits. OK, around 2 million from all the various postings. But... Read more →


CNN forecast screenshot I thought I'd have a couple of months before I had to worry, or post, about severe weather, but Mother Nature today is in a proper snit. The official National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has for days been talking about upper level lows and Gulf of Mexico air masses. I prefer the description by Texas songwriter/singer Terry Allen in The Lubbock Tornado (I Don't Know): "But when a high-pressure zone hits a low, somethin' gotta give, yeah somethin' gotta go." That's why folks from down here in Central Texas to the Midwest, upper and otherwise, to... Read more →


The 2020 filing season starts on Jan. 27 and millions of taxpayers already are ready to send their 1040s to the Internal Revenue Service on that day. Most of these folks are expecting refunds. But that's just one reason to file your taxes early. Here are six reasons to finish up your Form 1040 and get it to the IRS ASAP. 1. To get your refund sooner. Yes, a tax refund is always the top reason to file your taxes as early as you can. I could go on (and on and on) about how it's better to adjust your... Read more →


The individual tax filing season doesn't officially open until Jan. 27, but you're ready to file your taxes. Or are you? Tax filing, whether you do it yourself via tax software that you buy, use online or access via Free File or hand off the annual task to a tax pro, requires its own specific preparation. You've got to have all your tax-related documentation before you can start filling out that Form 1040. Here's a checklist of forms and documents you'll need to complete your taxes, as well as a look at tax situations you need to consider before filing.... Read more →


The tax world is atwitter, literally on social media and figuratively for those not addicted to the sociability component of their electronic devices, now that the Internal Revenue Service is already accepting business tax returns and will start taking 2019 tax year 1040 forms from individuals on Jan. 27. Everyone, from taxpayers to income payers to tax professionals are already at work, with most at this point gathering data in preparation for the actual filings. For tax professionals, that includes a written security plan to safeguard all the sensitive tax and financial information they handle for their clients. Tax data... Read more →


MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr CC It's official. The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting, and more importantly for folks expecting refunds, processing 2019 tax year individual returns on Monday, Jan. 27. Way to give me some breathing room (NOT!), IRS, after my post earlier today about the opening of business tax filing tomorrow, Jan. 7. OK, only kidding (sort of) about the back-to-back business and individual filing season blog items. It's always good news for all when the IRS announces filing season starting dates. Almost ready to go: The annual announcement of the individual tax return filing season means the tax... Read more →


Click image for a large, clearer view. Ready to do your 2019 taxes? The Internal Revenue Service says it will be on Jan. 7. Yep, that's tomorrow. But whoa up there, cowpokes. This starting date is just for IRS acceptance of business returns. On the Modernized e-File (MeF) Operational Status page noting the Jan. 7 starting date for business returns, the IRS also says, "Individual tax returns will begin at a date to be determined in early 2020." Still, it's a good sign that Uncle Sam's tax collector is looking at any return processing date in early January. Business returns... Read more →


Photo by Kristina Paukshtite from Pexels A staple feature each New Year's Day is the fixation on babies born just after the clocked clicked past midnight. For the families, it's usually a joyous event, with their new bundles of joy being showered with first baby themed gifts from local merchants. Tax professionals, even those with families, however tend to see such celebrations as a tad misplaced. Or, as Jerry Gaddis, an Enrolled Agent in Florida, describes it, "bad tax planning." Am I the only one who sees this and thinks "bad tax planning"? #EnrolledAgent — Jerry Gaddis. EA, MBA (@TropicalTax)... Read more →


Supporters of a minimum wage increase at rally in Chicago last year. (Photo: Charles Edward Miller licensed under CC by SA 2.0; cover of the National Employment Law Project 2020 report) New tax laws aren't the only ones that went into effect on New Year's Day across the United States. A record number of states, cities and counties have or will boost their minimum wages in 2020. On or around this Jan. 1st, the minimum wage increased in 21 states. Another 26 cities and counties also hiked their baseline pay at the start of this year. In the coming months,... Read more →


Owning a home has long been a symbol of the American dream. For some, however, homeownership turns into a nightmare. Those horrid homeowner dreams became evident in the Great Recession. In the late 1990s through the mid-2000s, artificially high home prices, questionable lending practices and an explosion of subprime mortgages to buyers who under regular lending standards would not have been given a home loan, created a housing bubble. It finally burst in 2007, leaving many homeowners broke as the loans on their properties suddenly were many thousands more than their homes were worth. Many went into foreclosure or walked... Read more →


How Texans see the United States. Each new year brings hope. A flip of the calendar pages, and the suddenly clean slate, at least metaphorically, means better things ahead are possible for us personally, professionally, financially and, of course, on the tax front (taxically, which spellcheck wants to change to toxically…). When it comes to taxes, the goal every year is to pay less. While we're still working under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) changes at the federal level, we still see some changes in 2020. Notably, especially when it comes to our always hoped for lower tax... Read more →


via GIPHY If you used your car for business purposes last year, you probably did the same thing I did on New Year's Eve. You took a quick look at your auto's odometer and jotted down the miles. Keeping track of your annual miles driven and those specifically attributable to business travel can help you reduce taxes on your self-employment income. There are a couple of ways you can track this travel, either by keeping good records of your actual business-related auto usage (more on this in a minute) or by claiming the optional standard mileage amount. That standard amount... Read more →